(from American Scientist magazine, Mar-Apr 2008)
There is honor among thieves.
- William Rehder, Special Agent FBI
Rick Santorum is now losing to the neologism “santorum” as Google’s first listing for his last name. Recently invented by Dan Savage and promoted on this website, it’s nice to know what a little dedication and elbow grease can accomplish for new words in America. For more details on what this word santorum means, I will kindly refer you to the above link.
Have you ever wondered about how to categorize the world so as to make it understandable? Neat people and messy people? Fun places and boring places. People who find it interesting to categorize the world and those who don’t.
These interesting world maps were created using techniques adopted from thermal transfer equations.
The four fundamental laws of nature define our understanding of the world in terms of its physical properties: gravity, electromagnetism and the weak and strong nuclear forces. These forces do not explain everything, and many physics theorists believe this is because the forces are still incompletely understood, or that the properties of the universe are more subtle. This leads many physicists to believe that there is a coming breakthrough in understanding the physical properties of the universe, that will more accurately describe the universe and predict its behavior.
I have a simple, rule-of-thumb test for a new search engine to see how it performs. My test, of course, doesn’t test all features, but it does test an important one. Here’s the test: There’s a small, rural town near San Francisco called Gilroy. It’s a random small town for this test’s purpose. Try searching any search engine for:
See what you turn up (or substitute your own city of choice). Google is crammed full of BS fake ad sites for this search (and has been for years). A long time ago on Google this search would pull up useful information from personal websites about good hotels in the area.
The recently re-released site Ask.com provides a somewhat more credible set of results, but still plenty of fake ad sites.
In my opinion, until somebody cracks the BS ad site problem, our search engine technology is really just incremental. As far as “narrowing search results” on ask.com – that doesn’t seem like what the feature does. It seems more like a semantic prompt. In this case, it asks if I would like to run a search on “City of Gilroy.” Note this doesn’t narrow my search of Gilroy hotels, but replaces it completely, giving me (useful) results about the City of Gilroy in general.